Jan 22, 2010

Security guards actually make me feel less secure

As many of you know, today is the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I was coming back from a meeting downtown around lunch time today, so I was present to witness the locust-storm of March for Life demonstrators filling Metro Center station. I should also mention that pro-choice groups gathered at the Supreme Court building around the same time. Many others have covered and will cover this fascinating application of free speech and the right to assemble. I would like, as I often do, to dwell on a tiny insignificant detail that may or may not have anything to do with the issue at hand.

There were security guards at the metro today. Tall men with badges and stern faces always pique my interest. So I went up to one of these gentlemen with a genial smile and a simple question,

"Excuse me... why are you all here?"

"Visibility," came the terse reply. Off my expression of pure huh?, he elaborated. "We're checking the track. That's all."

I looked at his cohort on the other side of the platform, who was staring unblinkingly at the gathering crowd of sign-wavers, and said, "Ah, okay. Thanks!"

Protests are a dime a dozen here in DC. Makes sense, being the nation's capital and all. But this particular issue is so contentious, and the current political environment so volatile, that apparently the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority doesn't think we can be trusted to behave ourselves.

That's a bit too far, I thought to myself as I walked away from the nice intimidating man. Then I saw a girl with a bumper sticker attached to her forehead that read "Abortion is NOT Healthcare." It was all I could do not to rip the damn thing off, eyebrows be damned. And suddenly I realized ... Oh, hell. We can't be trusted.

So good luck today, everyone (on both sides). While I may or may not share your views, I support your right to express them... calmly and, if at all possible, rationally. And to the WMATA security guards (and the DC police, and anyone else charged with keeping the peace) - I hope this event turns out to be entirely uneventful.

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